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U.S. says Grindr is a “national security risk” due to Chinese ownership

U.S. says Grindr is a “national security risk” due to Chinese ownership
[Photo: Darion Queen/Unsplash]

Grindr is a national security threat, apparently. Reuters reports that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a branch of the U.S. Treasury Department that monitors the impact of foreign investment on national security, has warned that Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. Ltd., which bought Grindr LLC in 2016, may be a risk. The exact nature of that risk, though, is unclear.

CFIUS is reportedly concerned that Kunlun purchased the company without submitting the acquisition for the committee’s review. As Kunlun gets ready for a Grindr IPO, CFIUS is now intervening. Reuters reports that Kunlun is now looking to sell the company outright to avoid holding onto it through an IPO.

It’s not exactly clear why CFIUS is concerned over Kunlun’s ownership of the gay matchmaking app. The perceived threat, however, may be related to data privacy. Grindr, which describes itself as the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, collects personal information submitted by its 27 million (or more) users, including location and sometimes their HIV status, which it got in trouble for sharing with third party vendors. Recently CFIUS has been scrutinizing foreign acquisitions of apps on data privacy grounds–especially if they involve U.S. military or intelligence personnel and perhaps Grindr hookups.

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